From an Institute of Social Work to a University of Social Sciences: The Evolution of TISS

The foundational objective of TISS was to create professional social workers for urban charities and industries. Is it possible to use higher education effectively for such specific social purposes? What are the challenges?


1This article is part of a series on higher education institutes which have a direct social purpose. These institutes use education in social sciences (and not technical education) to address one or the other challenges of social inclusion. One of these is the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). The foundational objective of TISS was to create professional social workers for urban charities (mainly those dealing with the issues of urban poor) and industries (to improve the welfare of factory workers). Is it possible to use higher education effectively for such specific social purposes? What are the challenges? These are the questions addressed in this series of articles. Since TISS has been in existence for more than 85 years, the key concern regarding it could be: How has it evolved, over time, as an institute of social sciences with a specific social purpose? How has it responded to the challenges from within and outside?

There are research articles on the early stage and evolution of TISS2. However, based on my knowledge, there are no articles on the Institute vis-à-vis its current nature of existence and its success in its stated social objective. This paper is based on material available in the public domain, including archival material on the story of TISS, and also consultations with students and faculty who have been associated with the institute in the past, especially, before its transition (in the 2000s) as a multi-campus social science university.

Focus of social work: Early debates

The beginning of social work education in the US in the second half of the 19th century was aimed at professionalizing’ the work in urban charities. These charity organizations came into existence to provide food and shelter to the poor, destitute, disabled, the terminally ill and so on. These depended financially on the charitable contributions of individuals or groups. These also addressed the poverty of drug addicts and alcoholics, and in such cases, there was a need to correct their behaviour through counselling and other strategies in addition to the provision of food and shelter. That was also a time when there was a perception that professional management, which is based on certain scientific or rational principles, is good not only for businesses but also for the provision of public and social services. This idea also fed into the design of education programs for professional social workers.

However, in the beginning, there were intense debates and divergent positions among those who were closely associated with social work education in the US. Not surprisingly, one such issue was about the root causes of poverty and destitution (among a substantial section of the people then), and whether social workers should address these root causes or not3. There were academics and practitioners of social work who wanted to focus on the structural causes of poverty. There were others who felt the need to focus on professionalizing the work that urban charities were already doing then say, through casework or correctional administration.

There was also an initial tussle between the labour unions and professional social workers4, which is not surprising since the former was involved in adversarial strategies in bargaining for better conditions for workers, and the charity of the moneyed people would not have been attractive to them. However, these tussles in the domain of social work were somehow resolved in the western world by the time TISS came into existence in India. Trade unions became active and industrialists themselves saw the case for improved working conditions of labour. These enabled a role for social workers in the industrial settings as labour welfare officers. Moreover, the democratization that happened in the developed world around that time, and the response of different governments towards the emerging social demands, led to the allocation of a greater share of public resources for poverty eradication. This helped in overcoming the conventional divide between those who wanted to focus on the structural constraints of poverty, and the professional role of social workers in extending help to the poor and destitute.

Premises and experiences leading to the foundation of TISS

The industrial and charity roots of TISS are well known. It was started by the most prominent industrial group in India at that time, and the first director headed a settlement house in Mumbai. Since India was under colonial rule, the developments in the industrial establishments in the UK influenced a similar need in India and is around the same time that TISS was established that the colonial government appointed a commission to look into the working conditions of workers in factories. It was this commission that recommended the need to appoint labour officers in all factories which had more than 500 workers. This recommendation was adopted by the colonial government as part of the Factories Act. In fact, it is this recommendation that ensured the availability of jobs for personnel managers trained at TISS5. Thus, the social and legal need for the trainees from TISS was established even before the independence of India.

However, there were a couple of issues that TISS had to grapple with on the eve of India’s transition to a free country. Though the founding of TISS and other such institutes of social work were inspired by urban poverty – mainly due to the legacy in countries such as the US and UK, and also due to the industry-charity relationships, a major part of the poverty in India existed in the rural areas. However, there were not many charity organisations which could employ professional social workers in rural areas then.

Over time, TISS has put in place different teaching programs to meet diverse needs. For example, the courses on personnel management, social welfare administration and mental health deal with (correcting) individual traits and the management of organizations. The program on social work has incorporated structural elements of poverty and underdevelopment and also the challenges in rural areas. Generally, the first year of the post-graduate programs comprised conventional social science (and discipline-based) courses which are supposed to provide deeper insights into the social and economic structures and other characteristics. The second year is devoted to practice and through this, the students are expected to acquire the skills to function in charitable organizations or the emotional orientation to take pro-poor or pro-social actions.

Debates on affiliating with a university

As noted earlier, originally, TISS was a graduate school of social work. There was an interesting debate at the beginning of social work education in India on whether such an education should be part of a university or not. This is documented6. J. M. Kumarappa who was associated with TISS since the beginning, and became the Director in 1941, made the following observations:

Since social work theory and practice are still in an evolutionary stage, it is of vital importance that the school of social work should have freedom to develop without being hampered by the formal and academic traditions of the university. It would be wiser to keep clear of the universities which are still merely academic, and tradition-bound. If the professional status of social workers is to be raised, education in social work … should continue to remain independent of a purely academic body’ 7.

The first director of the institute, Dr Clifford Manshardt, was also very cautious in this regard. According to him. ‘… (on) the question as to whether the schools of social work should be affiliated to the university, my personal view is that we need to pass through a period of experimentation before setting upon a rigid syllabus for inclusion in the university’s curriculum.’ 8

There were dissenting views too. By 1950, two more schools of social work came into existence. Though one of these started as an independent institute, it became part of the Delhi University (Delhi School of Social Work). The other came up as an integral part of the University of Baroda9. Those who are associated with these universities have highlighted the importance of this affiliation. Their points are somewhat along these lines.

The prevailing organizational setting for scholarly activity, of which social work is one type, is the university. As the task of accumulating and passing on a body of knowledge and training persons equipped to test and extend that knowledge looms larger, the institutional arrangements provided by the university prove essential. The process of socialization of the new professionals entering the school of social work which is without university affiliation would have been difficult.’ 10

However, this argument considers social work like any other scholarly activity that is carried out in a university setting. How far this is true is an interesting question. It may be noted that even those who have recognized the need for university affiliation and status, cautioned, however, against the loss of freedom and initiative which were so vitally needed for the growth of professional education for social work in its early years.’11 One such person asserted that social work education should not bargain for the university affiliation’.12

However, TISS also sought and received the status of a university, eventually.

The culture imparted

My discussions with the former students of TISS inform that the institute has been able to impart a pro-social culture among its students13. This is important for the students of social work or personnel (or human resource) managers. The latter function as intermediaries between the employers and workers and this can create a dilemma for them, at times. However, based on the observation of a majority of former students in the 1970s, it is clear that there was a pro-labour bias inculcated in the students of personnel management14. It is mostly true that social workers have a pro-poor orientation.

This culture can reflect in many ways – it may change the behaviour of students on campus. At TISS, even when sections of children come from relatively affluent or richer backgrounds, they have followed a culture of simplicity on campus and during field practice. Not surprisingly, there was a degree of egalitarianism within the campus, especially between students who came from underprivileged backgrounds and those from affluent families. The orientation provided in the institute has encouraged a number of students to start non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or be part of these or other civil society organizations taking up one or the other social cause15. Even when they have taken up jobs as managers in industries, their concern for the workers has influenced their actions and policies (that they designed) within the overall constraints of the industrial activities, such as the need to maintain productivity and competitiveness.

The inculcation of these attitudes was achieved through different means, but the field/​industrial practice played an important role. In addition to the summer programs, two days in a week were set aside for this purpose. A former 1980s student noted that he may have spent up to 270 days in the field during the two years of the program. The students spend this time in factories or charitable organizations, and it gives them good exposure to the problems faced by the workers and the poor and it could have a lasting impact on these students16. Most people, even those who criticize the other aspects of the education at TISS, are highly appreciative of the design and execution of the field practice component. TISS also came out with field action projects17, which later, evolved into a full-fledged NGO. This is more like the institute serving as an incubator’s role for start-ups in the social sector.

In addition to the field practice, the culture that the students have acquired is through informal interactions in the campus, including those among students. The fact that the number of students at TISS, until 2004, was relatively small (around 240 students living on a four-hectare campus) has facilitated a closer interaction between them.18 There was also an interaction between students of personnel management (or industrial relations) and of social work19. Such informal interactions are part of all educational institutes and the overall atmosphere of TISS may have facilitated such a culture of intermingling. However, there is a view that the classroom teaching at TISS (especially from the seventies onwards) was not particularly oriented to its social purpose. We take this up in the following section.

Teaching without connection between theory and practice

Informed practice requires theoretical understanding. However, the real challenge is the connection between theory and practice. This is more so in professions or practices like social work which are informed by social science. But most teachers of social science do not have exposure to practice and then the connection between theory and practice becomes a challenge.

Former students with whom I have discussed the teaching at TISS note that there were only a few faculty members who taught social sciences in a manner that could connect their classroom sessions with what students experience in their field practice or are expected to practice as part of their career as social workers or human resource managers. The faulty teaching trade unionism or labour law were of this category. However, there was not enough connection in the teaching of conventional social science subjects, such as sociology, with practical reality.

Most of those who acknowledge the culture of TISS as amenable in creating managers who are pro-worker and pro-poor, would consider the teaching at TISS not up to the mark 20. Of course, there are strong disagreements of this view. There is at least one industrial manager who found the classes on sociology in TISS outstanding. However, it is still the view of a minority. Though the former students have fond personal memories of one or the other teacher, these are often not due to their teaching21. One of these former students, in his capacity as the head of human resources in a well-known company, had interacted with the faculty of TISS to make marginal changes in classroom practices. However, it was not very successful. The then Director of the institute had acknowledged to this former student the difficulty in pulling faculty away from their conventional academic work (which may include research) to teach practitioners in the way TISS would like them to. A former faculty of the institute accepts that this noted discrepancy in the teaching at TISS is by and large true22 and thinks that nearly 30 percent of social science faculty could have overcome this constraint to a great extent. However, he sees application orientation and inter-disciplinary nature as the hallmarks of the teaching programs at TISS. According to him, there is an attempt to transcend disciplinary boundaries even at the level of fundamental theory. However, he notes that the apparent disconnection between theory and practice is rooted in the character of disciplines that are taught in universities. At best, it may enable the development of critical and analytical reflection in students. More specialization would mean limited knowledge for action.

There could be different reasons for the lack of a good connection between teaching theory and practice at TISS. The initial leadership of TISS comprised practitioners and they were not very interested in converting TISS into a university. However, it became a deemed-to-be university in 1964 and there may have been a gradual enhancement of the role of social science academics through this process. Conventional academics of social science, whether these are sociologists or economists or others, as noted earlier, have limited experience of practice. Hence, they focus on text-bookish theory without connecting it with the practical realities that the students may confront. Unlike management schools, there may not be any compulsion to integrate case studies in the teaching of subjects such as sociology or economics in the schools of social work.23 This could be due to the lack of preparation on the part of the majority of the faculty, who continued with it.

The practitioner’ teachers too might fail on another count.24 They fail not only in connecting theories of social and psychological sciences (studied by the students in the first year), but also in drawing generalizable insights from practice. Their discussions are more on the details of action in specific contexts or somewhat repetitive advocacy for a pro-poor orientation. In summary, there are failures on the part of social scientists to connect theory with practice, and that of the practitioner-faculty in linking their instruction with the generalizable insights or theory.

Thus, one can see a certain inherent inability in the structure of TISS to put in place and continue with a curriculum and pedagogy, and faculty that were in line with the purpose of its founding principles. Though it was founded by it, the Tata Trust has not exercised its ownership, and it may have allowed the institute to look for resources from different sources. There has been no continuity of ownership and leadership which are wedded to the original mission. There was no assured financial support for the TISS from the founders (and there was no corpus made by the Tata Trust for this purpose), and it may have encouraged the institute to seek funding from different sources and to tweak its agenda for this purpose. However, it may be incorrect to presume that the work of academics can be guided even with ownership and leadership (and with adequate financial resources), which is committed to the founding vision of a higher education institute.25 There could be internal academic factors that may disable an institute from implementing an appropriate and balanced curriculum and pedagogy.

Are the pass outs job-ready?

Does the nature of training affect the career performance of students of TISS? One set of students who pass out, take managerial roles (in human resource departments) in private or corporate firms. Another set of students who come out of this program (along with students of other institutes like XLRI26) are in high demand in the labour market and fetch a higher salary. The HR head of a noted engineering company in India, who is an alumnus of TISS told me that his company (or other such engineering companies) cannot afford to employ students from TISS, and the salary that they offer is much lower than the expectations of students (which could be based on the offers made by other firms). Regarding the preparedness of students, one former student of the institute and currently a recruiter in a company, remarked, The human side” or the ability of the students of TISS to look at issues in a neutral way is rather strong. On the other hand, the students from XLRI excel in execution.’

The specificities of the training in an institute need not affect the attractiveness of students in the labour market. This could be due to a number of reasons. The students who enter the TISS go through rigorous competition, and hence, most of them are likely to be pretty smart’27 and this may be taken as a positive signal by the employers. Secondly, what employers are looking for could be certain generic qualities in newly recruited employees, such as curiosity, interest and the ability to learn and apply knowledge.28 In that sense, the specific lessons taught in an institute of higher education may not be of great consequence in the labour market.

Establishment of the rural campus

The idea behind a rural campus for TISS on (unfertile) land given by the government in a relatively underserved area, namely, Tulsapur in Maharashtra in the mid-1980s, was to extend the benefits of education of the institute to rural areas. One of the initial ideas was to provide an undergraduate education (say, an undergraduate degree in social work), as terminal education to the less privileged, rural students so that they could take up jobs in government and non-government organizations which serve the needs of these localities. There was an intention behind designing an inter-disciplinary and practice-oriented curriculum.

However, this initiative faced a number of challenges. There were not many jobs for people who completed this undergraduate program. When an undergraduate program does not lead to related employment, it is viewed as a conventional degree. A former faculty who was associated with the rural campus is of the view that the job conditions in the development and social sectors play an important role in the motivation and demand for degree programs and these may not always be in line with the foundational purpose of such institutes. However, such an employment issue, per se, need not be the driving force for a shift towards a greater focus on social sciences (and post-graduate programs), since even the completion of such programs do not assure employment whereas some of the practice-oriented courses may lead to a higher chance of employment even if they do not fetch high salaries.

There can also be a demand by teachers to make the teaching more connected to their disciplinary training. This demand may reflect in the design of new courses and teaching programs. Then, the conventional, academic achievements become the criteria for admission, and this need not necessarily attract the kind of students who would meet the specific purpose of the program.

Expansion to a social science university

Until 2006, the growth of TISS was stagnant with about 250 students. Teachers had started focusing on research’ like any other social science research institute or a typical social science department of a relatively good-quality university in India. There was a reduced emphasis on teaching, and that affected the connection between what was taught and the expected practice/​professions of students who would pass out of different programs. The problem of the disconnect between the teaching and practice that is mentioned in a previous section aggravated over time29.

Beginning from 2006, TISS got into an expansion phase. First, it started new schools within its Mumbai campus. Secondly, it added programs on social sciences (like Development Studies) which are not related closely to the practice-orientation of the early construct of TISS. It also set up new campuses in Hyderabad and Guwahati and centres in places like Andaman & Nicobar Islands. It improved the quality of infrastructure within the Mumbai campus. The infrastructure in the main campus was in bad shape without adequate investments and maintenance, and a part of the resources and support mobilized from different sources was used in improving it.

It may be noted that such an expansion was led by Professor Parasuraman, the Director during the period. The rapid growth of the institute during this period can be seen from the fact that the student strength went up from around 250 to 1400 within a relatively short period. In one sense, the increase in the number of students was a strategy to draw greater social good/​benefits from the faculty of TISS.

To a great extent, this expansion was intended to be part of a much-needed push from within TISS to create a stronger image and presence in the country. 30

However, the expansion of the programs and the creation of new campuses were also based on a somewhat over-optimistic expectation of the realization of promised support from different sources. For example, the plan for the Hyderabad campus was based on a promise of support from the government of India, the trust which helped the founding of the TISS, and another foundation. However, the promised support from the first two sources did not come through and there was a need to take ad-hoc actions based on the financial support provided by the second foundation. That led to a situation where this funder and TISS were not always in agreement with the way funds were utilized. All these led to a very difficult situation for the Director who had presided over this expansion and created uncertainty in the expansion plans and the future of the satellite campuses. In general, the drive for expansion was not based on assured financial support from reliable sources and that has enhanced the strain on the institute as a whole.

However, one can also raise certain fundamental questions on the expansion plan of the institute. By looking at its history and dynamics over time, one can see a transition of TISS from a school of social work towards a university of social sciences and liberal education through expansion. As noted earlier, there were concerns about the inappropriateness of university affiliation (considering the flexibility required for social work education), and also the disconnect between teaching and practice, mainly due to the inadequate experience of academics in the domain of practice. These issues were not addressed adequately in the expansion phase, in which the major objective was to increase the footprint of the institute in terms of the number of students, campuses, geographical areas covered and so on. Moreover, the expansion was more towards social sciences and not in the direction of creating informed practitioners (like social workers). There can also be sociological reasons for the preference of social sciences as represented in universities considering the way knowledge and channels of its publication are valued in the current academic context31.

One of the interviewees, who has studied in TISS in the late 1990s, noted that there was a divide between the social work faculty and the social sciences faculty. The expansion plan, including the addition of new schools in the Mumbai campus of TISS, was intended to give a greater emphasis on social sciences. Though he is sympathetic to the need for a greater emphasis on social sciences in TISS, he felt that the strategy attempted did not address the core problem faced by the institute in this regard. The expansion plan, according to this former student, could be part of an ad-hoc or knee-jerk response to the challenges faced by TISS in the later part of the 20th century32. According to one former faculty, though the purpose of this transition was genuine33, the process was too fast34. He thinks that a university needs to retain its core and it should not transform itself to meet all aspirations of all stakeholders (like faculty or students)35. For this reason, the expansion has created a conceptual confusion and led to a certain dissipation of energy. The expansion may have also gone beyond what was possible with the endowments of the institute.

In the seventies, it was easy to perceive that TISS and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) – both have a good reputation and a certain tilt towards societal issues – have two different focusses. The social concern of a conventional university of social scientists manifests usually in critical analysis or public-spirited criticism. However, the social concern of an institute of social work would manifest in those actions that can improve the lives of the poor and other marginalized groups, including their mobilization against possible forms of oppression. However, after the expansion, the perception is that TISS attempted to move in the direction of JNU36. Was it successful? Did India’s social context at the time require TISS to move in the direction of JNU? Will both these institutes to do well based on their foundational objectives? All this remains to be analysed. Though it is too early to make a prediction on the impact of TISS in terms of social science research, it does not seem to be better than the first 5 – 6 good quality universities in India. In that sense, the expansion of TISS may have added one more social science university in the country without addressing the fundamental problems that it set out to address. It can be safely stated that the transition of TISS is not in step with its founding vision (without making any normative observations on the desirability of this transition)37.

Driving factors in comparison with other institutes

As noted by a former faculty of TISS and who was closely associated with the establishment and initial design of programs of its rural campus, this institute started with a development orientation’ and continues to be so to a great extent. In that sense, a comparison with other such institutes or universities (like IRMA or the Azim Premji University or the inter-cultural universities in Latin America) seems relevant.

If the university with a specific purpose has to continue to be so, it may need three kinds of enabling factors. These are, external environment; management and control; and the preparedness of the academics. The external environment may change, for example, the way the economy and labour market change would put pressure on the kind of jobs that the students would get. For example, in an analysis on the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) we have seen that the intervention of private sector in rural production/​marketing has created attractive jobs for their graduates, which though may not be totally in line with the vision of the founders of IRMA.

The second factor is management and control. These may include the resources available to the institute, ownership structure, and the continuity in management so that the institute continues to perform its expected role. Though the financial contribution of the founding organization, that is, the National Dairy Development Board, has come down, it still exercises certain control over the IRMA. However, the institute has to acquire resources from other sources, such as student fees or government sources. The former may determine the class character of students it admits, and probably their willingness to take up jobs that IRMA’s founders wish them to do; the latter may force the institute to accept certain regulatory structures which need not enable the flexibility and innovativeness that it wants to retain. To some extent, this is true of TISS too. The founders (Tata Trusts) have not created an endowment, and currently, the institute depends on the resources provided by the University Grants Commission (UGC), students’ fees and also project incomes38. The expansion of TISS was based on certain promises of financial support which have not materialized. All these may have an impact on its current functioning.

The other important element is the role of academics. I would argue that the challenges in this regard are not serious for IRMA since it was designed as a management institute (but for creating managers for producers’ organizations). There is a shared meaning of what should be the contents of management education; moreover, there are enough opportunities through the field practice to expose students to the reality of rural life and small producers. Hence, there are no major challenges in the continuation of a curriculum which is appropriate to the founding mission of the IRMA (there are, however, some ambiguities regarding the non-management courses).

However, the situation in TISS is somewhat different. Though its founding objective was to create social workers and at that time, such social workers were employed in urban charities and industries, and so, social scientists were a dominant section of the faculty. The older debate on whether the mitigation of poverty or the exploitation of labour would require professional social workers or the structural transformation of the society, and the gradual increase in the focus on the latter especially in a country which had routed colonialism and persisted with economic under-development, might have shifted the focus towards social sciences. As noted earlier, the teaching of social sciences is not practice-oriented in most parts of the world. Hence, TISS may have continued with teaching dominated by social sciences (barring a few courses in trade unions and labour law) but with an adequate field exposure due to the initial focus on social work. Though field practice is useful in exposing students to social/​labour issues and in creating an orientation to address some of these, there may not be a good connection between field-practice and classroom teaching.

What does this mean for the Azim Premji University?

The Azim Premji University has certain advantages and disadvantages compared to TISS (discussed here). First, it has unitary ownership and leadership which is closely linked to the ownership. Secondly, it has adequate resources, and it does not have to depend on the money from governmental or other non-government organizations. Which means it will not need to increase student fees to meet a major part of its operational expenditure. These factors should enable the university to continue in the direction shaped by its foundational vision to the extent possible.

However, the Azim Premji University does not have one enabling factor that the IRMA has. The latter is, as noted earlier, created as a management institute and there is a shared understanding of the meaning of management education among academics, students and other stakeholders. This may reduce the tensions and conflicts regarding what should be the (major part of the) curriculum of the IRMA. On the other hand, the objective of the Azim Premji University – that is the creation of reflective practitioners in the domains of education and human development – can be one where such a shared understanding is somewhat missing among different stakeholders (or it is only evolving). There are unresolved debates on what are the crucial challenges in the provision of quality schooling for all in India. There are contested and contradictory positions on development, and whether there should be development or not is also reckoned as an unresolved debate among certain academics and activists. This is somewhat closer to the situation in the TISS where the gradual change in the focus towards the structural determinants in society as the root cause for poverty and deprivation might have encouraged it to stress on the education of social sciences.


V Santhakumar, Professor, Azim Premji University

  1. Author's note: Santhakumar acknowledges with thanks the initial discussions with, and the contacts provided by Dileep Ranjekar in writing this article. A number of former students and faculty have provided their views, but their names have not been disclosed for confidential purposes. The usual disclaimers apply.↩︎

  2. For example, Yejala (1967), Schools of Social Work in India: Historical Developments 1936-1966, the dissertation entitled Social Welfare Policy and Service Curriculum in Indian Schools of Social Work which was submitted to the University of Pennsylvania in May 1967 in partial requirements for the degree of Doctor of Social Work.↩︎

  3. There are many writings on this debate. See Jarvis, C. 2000. Function Versus Cause: Moving Beyond Debate. Praxis. Volume 6 p. 44-49.↩︎

  4. Ashenberg Straussner, Shulamith Lala and Phillips, Norma Kolko (1988). The Relationship Between Social Work and Labor Unions: A History of Strife and Cooperation. The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare: Vol. 15: Iss. 1, Article 8. Available at:↩︎

  5. This may have created a division between those study to be welfare officers in factories and the general category of social workers. The former has a clear role in the industry and hence, have an assured compensation. This could be true to some extent in the case of medical health workers work in hospitals. That is not the case of social workers who may have to work mostly in NGOs which are not well-funded in India and are subject to the vagaries of project-based funding. At least one former student has noted that those who get into TISS to be personnel managers in companies look down upon those who are trained to be social workers. However, there were others in the same program who see themselves oriented to making money and the `social work’ students as idealists. It may be noted that some of these social work students came from affluent families too.↩︎

  6. Yelaja, S. A. (1967) Schools of Social Work in India: Historical Developments 1936-1966, Doctoral Thesis submitted to the University of Pennsylvania.↩︎

  7. Quoted in Yelaja (1967) p. 367↩︎

  8. Ibid↩︎

  9. There were two other institutes of social work by then. One was the one part of Kashi Vidyapith, and the other was Bombay Labour Institute.↩︎

  10. Yelaja (1987), p.367↩︎

  11. Yelaja, (1967) p. 367↩︎

  12. Ibid↩︎

  13. This is noted by former students who have studied in the 1970s and 1990s. There are a couple of former students (among those I spoke to) who studied in the 1970s and early 1980s, one of who felt that this pro-social culture is somewhat exaggerated, but he too sees the role of field-work in exposing students to real-world challenges. Another sees his job in a professional manner and not with any pro-worker or pro-capitalist bias.↩︎

  14. This is the view of a former student who became the head of human resources of a corporate organization later. This culture has encouraged him to take a pro-employee position within his organization too. The role of field/company practice and internship for the inculcation of this culture was noted by the students of personnel management and social work.↩︎

  15. A former faculty notes that TISS has been able to influence government policies in the social sector.↩︎

  16. The other side is that the students are usually attached to junior officers in factories. Their exposure could be shaped by the attitude of these officers.↩︎

  17. Professor Armaity Desai played an important role in this regard when she was the Director of the institute.↩︎

  18. The campus atmosphere of TISS with a small number of students has enabled them to interact with everyone including the security personnel and people working in the cafeteria is noted by a number of interviewees as an important factor in creating the culture there.↩︎

  19. Even a former student of personnel management who denied any pro-social bias, acknowledged the positive impact of interacting with social work students.↩︎

  20. I could hear comments such as `mediocre’, ‘overrated’ and ‘boring’.↩︎

  21. Two former students think that they have had amazing teachers in their school and undergraduate education but not during their post-graduation. One of the interviewees felt that the disconnect between theory and practice or textbook and reality is a common problem in Indian education. She has seen her education in the US (after post-graduation from TISS) characteristically different in this regard. A number of former students have felt that this problem of disconnection between theory and practice is much more severe in personnel management.↩︎

  22. This, according to him, could be due to the disciplinary backgrounds and due to the process of socialization. On the other hand, there could be faculty who may have had experiences of student or social mobilizations before taking up academic careers, and it is relatively easy for them to connect their teaching with practice. His own Jesuit background and sympathetic attitude towards Marxist revolutionaries and his involvement in a literacy movement seemed to have helped him to cross the disciplinary boundaries.↩︎

  23. TISS depended mostly on practising managers to teach management subjects, and former students see these much more connected to reality.↩︎

  24. This is noted by an academically oriented former student who has become a social science teacher in another university after completing a doctoral program.↩︎

  25. Some of these issues are discussed in another paper on the Azim Premji University and it is available in Universities for a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society: Lessons for and from Azim Premji University↩︎

  26. Another institute which has similar roots – started by a corporate house, it focused initially on labour relations.↩︎

  27. Term used by a former student.↩︎

  28. Described by the HR head of a corporate, who is an alumnus of TISS. There can be an elaboration of such ideal qualities – open mind, interpersonal skills, certain values desirable in an organization, etc.↩︎

  29. An alumnus made certain efforts to improve the situation with the management of TISS when the latter approached him in connection with the placement of students. The reluctance of the faculty to divert time from research projects and improve the quality of teaching was noted in the discussions between them.↩︎

  30. A faculty notes that phase as giving a `shock’ to the institute.↩︎

  31. This is noted by a former faculty.↩︎

  32. A set of students view nostalgically the close interactions within the relatively small campus in Mumbai and feel that this closeness has disappeared due to the expansion.↩︎

  33. Another former faculty felt that the first phase of this expansion was really good.↩︎

  34. This is echoed by a former student who considers the work done by Parasuraman as fantastic but somewhat rushed and tilting off too much.↩︎

  35. According to him, though the needs of the country are huge, no one institute/university can attempt to meet all these needs He has also noted that the (then) Director was open to new ideas and proposals by faculty.↩︎

  36. Two former faculty of TISS have made this comparison.↩︎

  37. However, it is to be noted that the expansion has not affected the reputation of the conventional programs of TISS in the areas of social work and personnel management.↩︎

  38. A number of former students and faculty have noted the lack of strong interest on the part of and support from Tata Trusts to TISS.↩︎